MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

 August 24, 2013

 Mayville State approved to offer Bachelor of Science degree in special education


At the May State Board of Higher Education meeting, Mayville State University was given approval to offer a new Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.) degree in special education. This is an exciting new opportunity for students who wish to become teachers in North Dakota.

Until now, a generalist program for special education at the undergraduate level did not exist within the North Dakota University System. The new program will provide opportunities for graduates from Mayville State the same licensure option as teachers educated in other states, and be the sole option in North Dakota for special education teacher candidates wishing to meet the new licensure requirements set forth by the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB).

Prior to the new licensure requirements, North Dakota had been a categorical state since 1976. In special education, categorical means the teacher has been prepared to work with children with disabilities in a specific area such as intellectual disabilities. Non-categorical means the teacher has been prepared in special education without any specific categorical background. Most states are non-categorical.

In February of 2012, the North Dakota ESPB voted to provide changes in how local school districts are able to place special educators. To provide for better mobility for educators moving into North Dakota, the state allows for an out-of-state applicant with a valid regular educator license from any other state to be granted a North Dakota Professional Educator License.

This recommendation will provide a license to all applicants from other states holding a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in special education, allowing the applicant to work with all children with disabilities. To provide North Dakota teachers with the same opportunities, North Dakota will no longer require a double major in a content area, as well as a special education major. This means that a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in special education will be able to work with children in any category without having a background in specific college coursework.

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the discipline’s professional organization, has acknowledged a “chronic and severe shortage of personnel to deliver special education services.” The U.S. Department of Education approximated 50,000 individuals practicing special education who are unqualified. This negatively impacts the learning of over a million students with disabilities. A bachelor’s program offering in North Dakota will meet entry-level expectations for special educators in the areas of standards-based curriculum content, subject matter content, and individualized pedagogical content.

Graduates of Mayville State’s B.S.Ed. program in special education will be prepared to meet requirements of CEC Common Core of Knowledge and Skills, the Individualized General Education Curriculum, and Individualized Independence Curriculum or Early Childhood Special Education/Early Intervention, of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and the endorsement standards for the state of North Dakota.

Individuals with the degree will be equipped to work in a variety of career options. They might support people with disabilities in schools, or work in human service agencies, adult education, or community-home support.

Students pursuing this degree will complete courses online and face-to-face in early childhood, elementary, or secondary special education. Students will be eligible to apply for early childhood, elementary, or secondary teaching licensure.

Mayville State is well-known for providing quality teachers, and we are proud to now be the only North Dakota University System institution that offers the Bachelor of Science degree in special education. It is our privilege to provide for the needs of the citizens of North Dakota.